You’re a photographer or videographer and you’ve made the decision to invest in an “Aerial Film Drone” kit like these from DSLRPros. You’re not necessarily technical, but you’re smart enough to figure things out. The box finally shows up at your door. You open the kit and you’re first thought is, “Oh boy, I’m in way over my head!”
I can relate. That was my first thought, but it’s not as bad as it looks. Hopefully these 5 tips will be informative and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Tip #1: Don’t Panic
When you order a kit from a place like DSLRPros they have already done the heavy lifting. They’ve made the upgrades to the quadcopter (Phantom 1, Gimbal installed, upgraded Futaba radio), programmed the radio and provided all of the additional materials you’ll need on your shoots (extra batteries, battery charger, prop guards…). Figuring out what all of the parts do and how to install them can be a challenge, but leads me to my next couple of tips…
Tip #2: Read the Manuals
All of the documentation will be included with the kit. This is not like setting up a television or computer. Don’t blow off reading the manuals. They all have important information regarding the quadcopter, radio and monitor. They will walk you through set up for each device, but also explain what each device does and how it does it. Remember, knowledge is power with the quadcopter and the more work you do before takeoff the better your flying experience will be.
Tip #3: Watch Videos
Over the course of three days, I watched 50 videos on everything from how to charge your batteries to how to install prop guards. You name it, I watched it. I’m really glad that I did, and I would highly recommend you do the same. DSLRPros has some great videos on how to get set up and flying, but there are a lot of other people out there who have taken the time to create video tutorials as well. Here are some of my favorites –
DSLRPros Unboxing – Explains each piece of equipment that comes in the case.
How to charge your batteries – It’s not as simple as you might think. A must watch.
Getting Started with your DJI Phantom – Great introductory video.
DJI Phantom: First Flight Advice – Fun video that takes a beginner and has her fly the Phantom 1.
Tip #4: Use Your Prop Guards
“If you’re not crashing, you’re not flying.” That was one of the quotes I remember from my video research. Initially, you are going to crash. The copter will tip over while the props are active. You’re landings will not be gentle. Save yourself the money and the headaches and install your prop guards. At times they get in the way of your shot, but it’s better to use them and risk ruining a few shots then to damage the quadcopter.
Tip #5: Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
Take it slow. You need to have a genuine understanding of the quadcopter and the equipment that came with it before you fly. Once you start flying, don’t worry about the video you’re getting. Everything I’ve been getting has been purely accidental, and it still looks great! Work on getting the quadcopter in the air. Practice hovering. Work with the command sticks on the radio. Practice landing. There’s no need to test the limitations of the copter right off the bat. Once you get comfortable, then you can start to push the capabilities of the technology.
Bonus tip: Practice
Get out and fly as much as you can. The more you do it the easier it gets. Trust me!
*Quick disclaimer – at this time, we are only flying our quadcopter for personal uses. It is still not legal to fly commercially. We are hoping that will change next year, but if you need any clarification on the legal issues surrounding this issue click here.